Charlie and The Chocolate Factory and Matilda are classic children’s books, and author, Roald Dahl, is undoubtedly one of the most influential children’s storytellers. While Dahl didn’t get his start as a writer until later in life, he managed to write many books that delight kids to this day.
Roald Dahl wrote 67 books in his lifetime. Of those, 24 were intended for children, while almost 20 were for adults. He believed stories are good for you, influencing your thoughts away from the circumstances of life to good thoughts that will shine from within you.
Why is Roald Dahl such a popular children’s author? Keep reading to learn how his masterful techniques of using nonsense language, children as main characters, and the rags to riches theme create some of the most fun and memorable reading.
Why Did Roald Dahl Start Writing?
Roald Dahl routinely made up stories for his five children at bedtime. As the stories grew, he wrote them down where they became full books. Inspired by his life experiences Dahl used them to spin tales of unforgettable characters and events.
His books are full of made-up words, clever children, horrible adults, and unexpected humor. The imaginative worlds of his stories have produced some of the most memorable main characters.
Dahl later wrote poetry, short stories, and screenplays, including Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and James Bond You Only Think Twice.
Roald Dahl Books
Roald Dahl created stories set in whimsical, fantastic worlds where the good guy always wins. The books are humorous and witty, with vivid word pictures. One of the strongest lures of his writing is the miraculous, bizarre happenings the main characters cause.
The Most Famous Book: Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
After his father and sister died, Dahl’s mother sent him to boarding school, where he received an unexpected perk–free chocolate! A chocolate company sent free samples to the school in exchange for the opinion of the students.
This book about a boy named Charlie who gets the golden ticket to tour the chocolate factory has sold over twenty million copies in 55 languages.
The story goes that Charlie Bucket, whose family is quite poor, wins a golden ticket inside the chocolate bar he purchased. The ticket allows Charlie and his grandpa to tour the Willie Wonka chocolate factory along with a group of other winners.
Charlie imagines the fantastic chocolate inventions of Willie Wonka, who has Oompa Loompa helpers. The four other winners and their parents accompany Charlie and his grandpa. Along the way, each of the other four children shows their true greedy colors throughout the tour and are ejected from the factory one by one.
At the end of the story, Charlie, grandpa, and Willie Wonka take the glass elevator to Charlie’s house to collect his family to celebrate winning the contest. Charlie is the new owner of the chocolate factory.
The Most Unexpected and Unique: The BFG
The BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is unexpectedly kind and caring, while Sophie (an orphan) is the witty protagonist. Sophie and The BFG travel to many places, all with her sitting on his oversized ear.
The BFG captures good dreams and puts them in children’s heads as they sleep, but he destroys the bad dreams. He talks in his own strange “gobblefunk” language and is the only giant in his land who doesn’t eat humans.
Unfortunately, the BFG misses a nightmare, and it causes the giants to get in a big fight. Sophie and the BFG approach the queen of England who sends a fleet of helicopters to capture the giants, tie them up, and send them back to their land.
The Most Classic: James and the Giant Peach
This story about a boy named James whose parents die and he must live with his mean aunts is the first story Roald Dahl wrote specifically for children. James escapes his misery by befriending a magical collection of oversized insects who join him on a journey across the ocean in a gigantic peach.
The peach ultimately lands on the Empire State Building in New York, where James makes friends with other children and they all eat the peach.
Why Children and Adults Like Roald Dahl Books
Roald Dahl’s books have become a staple in the literature of the twentieth century. Part of the reason they are so popular is that the children triumph over the villainous adults in their lives. Dahl accomplishes this feat in the most unbelievable ways with unexpected allies for the kids.
Roald Dahl Uses Crazy Language
Dahl’s use of crazy language is part of what makes his books so fun. Kids understand his sarcasm and humor. While many authors appeal to kids, Roald Dahl’s writing has a unique appeal due to his consistent use of crazy language. Here is an example.
In The BFG, for example, Dahl uses words like “trogglehumper” (nightmare), “rotsome” (terrible), and “plexicated” (difficult) all in the span of a single paragraph!
While the words are clearly not real, kids have no difficulty understanding what he is saying simply by using the context clues provided in the paragraph. Furthermore, not only do the kids understand the made-up language, but it also makes them giggle!
Roald Dahl Writes From a Kid’s Point of View
Most kids love to read books written from their point of view, and Dahl does this better than any other author. Perhaps the best part is that the kids triumph in the end. The nonsense Dahl writes always somehow makes complete sense, which probably makes it more appealing.
Roald Dahl’s Characters Are Imaginative
From their names to their types, the characters who aid the kids in his books are fantastical and imaginative. He uses giants, insects, and other fanciful characters to aid the main characters of the stories. Even their names reflect something about their nature, like Augustus Gloop who is greedy and always thinks with his stomach.
Dahl’s prolific writing has given us fun, imaginative stories that make us laugh aloud. While he only started writing once his children were born, he had a unique talent for writing books all ages would enjoy.